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Kemba Smith-Pradia

Photo courtesy of: Kemba Smith-Pradia

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MLK Jr. Day week includes march, brunch, and community service

Domestic violence survivor Kemba Smith-Pradia to give keynote speech

Ohio University will honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day for the third consecutive year with a weeklong celebration, Jan. 12-16.

The celebration, which is coordinated by the Martin Luther King Celebration Committee, carries the theme, "The dream lives on in you: Service, community, teaching." The events include critical conversations about the life and work of Dr. King after the historic March on Washington, community service, hands on activities for children, and the annual silent march and brunch on the holiday.

"This year's MLK Celebration continues to build upon the work of the last few years where we have built expectations around the brunch for compelling speakers and a quality event," said Brian Bridges, Ohio University vice provost for diversity, access and equity. "The involvement of the community and faculty around issues of service and poverty has been a powerful tool for building campus/community
relationships and making the legacy of Dr. King relevant locally."

The MLK Celebration Committee's primary goal is to coordinate university-sponsored events that address important issues such as social justice and racial equality during the holiday celebration. This year, the committee is co-chaired by Akil Houston, assistant professor of African American Studies, and Kellea Tibbs, assistant director for affinity programs for the Ohio University Alumni Association.

"I'm looking forward to this year's MLK events," Houston said. "The planning committee has worked hard to ensure the program is much more than a celebration. The slate of events are a call to recommit to social justice."

This year's events include:

Thursday, Jan. 12
MLK Jr. Celebration of Creativity

This event, which will take place in the Baker University Center Ballroom Atrium, is open to students in grades K-12 in the areas surrounding Athens and Ohio University regional campuses. In honor of King's legacy, students will create original art work.

Winners will be recognized at the creativity showcase from 6-7 p.m. The Kids Art Reception will take place 7-9 p.m. For more information, contact Nancy Baur at nc101896@ohio.edu.

MLK Jr. Opening Panel

This free and open to the public event has the theme "More than a dream: Social Justice, Community & King and will take place 7-9 p.m. in Baker University Center Ballroom A. Campus and community leaders will discuss the life and work of MLK Jr. beyond the March on Washington. Panelists include Monica Jones, director of Ohio University Regional Campus Diversity; Tony Mayle, Ohio University alumnus and member of the Chesterhill Multicultural Genealogical Center; George Wood, superintendent and secondary school principal of Federal Hocking Local Schools; and Jan Griesinger, social justice advocate and former director of United Campus Ministry. For more
information, contact Akil Houston at houstond@ohio.edu.

Friday, Jan. 13

S.T.A.R.S. Presents "It Takes a Village"

This event will engage select students in Athens County Schools with activities related to MLK's legacy of equality and justice. Students Teaching about Racism (S.T.A.R.S.) will lead the interactive workshop from 9 to 11:30 a.m. in Baker University Center. For more information, contact Stephanie Sheeley at ss190208@ohio.edu.

Saturday, Jan. 14

MLK Jr. Day of Service

Participants have an opportunity to volunteer in service projects throughout Athens County. For more info, contact Jim Sand at sand@ohio.edu.

Scheduled service projects include:

Habitat for Humanity * – Volunteers needed for home building project, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., 308 Oak St., Nelsonville, Ohio

Multicultural Genealogical Center * – Volunteers needed to clean and perform office work, noon-3 p.m., Chesterhill, Ohio

Re-Store Habitat Store * – Volunteers needed to clean and work in store, noon-3 p.m., 4 South Plains Road, The Plains, Ohio

United Campus Ministry – Volunteers needed to assist with Saturday lunch, 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m., 18 North College St., Athens, Ohio.

*Transportation will be provided to these events

Volunteers will meet outside the Campus Involvement Center in Baker University Center 355 about 30 minutes before service event. Volunteers will reconvene at Walter Hall 145 at 4 p.m. to reflect on their day of service. Contact Jim Sand at 740-597-9968 or Melissa Wales at ucm@midohio.twcbc.com at 740-593-7301. Additional service opportunity includes Good Works Inc. 10th annual Walk for the Homeless, which will take place at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 14. For more information, call 740-594-3339.

Monday, Jan. 16

12th annual MLK Jr. Silent March and Celebratory Brunch

This event allows the community to gather to celebrate the life, legacy and service of MLK Jr. The silent march begins at 10 a.m. in front of Galbreath Chapel and ends at the Baker University Center. Brunch begins at 11 a.m. and tickets can be purchased at the Ohio University Multicultural Center located at Baker University Center 205. Tickets are $10 students, $15 general, $75 student table, $110 general table.

Kemba Smith-Pradia, advocate, consultant and public speaker, will deliver "From a Dream to Social Justice: How a Woman Transformed Adverse Circumstances into Healthy Choices, Healing and Social Justice."

During her talk, Smith-Pradia will discuss how her experiences connect with the life and work of Dr. King, particularly around his views on democracy and social justice. In her long-awaited memoir, "Poster Child: The Kemba Smith Story," she chronicles her story of how poor choices can have long-term consequences. She has also been featured in many national media outlets. More information about her can be found here.

"Kemba was wrongfully sentenced to 24.5 years in a federal prison and after support from the national media, she was granted clemency by President Bill Clinton," Houston said. "Having known her, I can certainly speak to the power of her story with regard to making responsible choices. College students are at a time in their life where their choices have lifelong implications."

The brunch is sponsored by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Phi Chapter; Black Student Cultural Programming Board (BSCPB); Campus Involvement Center; The Office for Diversity, Access and Equity; Ohio University MLK Planning Committee; Residential Housing; Senate Appropriations Commission (SAC) and University Program Council. For more information, contact Vincent Harris at vh219210@ohio.edu or 740-593-9387.